The Friday mosque of Simnan is one of the earliest mosques built in Iran. An inscription on its minaret states that the tower was constructed during the governorship of Abu Harb Bakhtiar ibn Muhammad, dating it to between 1026 (417 AH) and 1035 (426 AH). This is the oldest extant part of the building. The mosque was later expanded during the Ilkhanid and Timurid periods.
The mosque is found inside the Simnan city bazaar, and its main entrance is on the north side from Imam street. Another entrance is found on the east side from the bazaar. Rectangular in plan, the mosque is oriented southwest-northeast and centers on a twenty-five by twenty-seven meter courtyard. Having developed over the centuries, each side of the courtyard has a different plan. On the west side sits a large qibla iwan leading onto a domed chamber. The three other sides are occupied by hypostyle prayer halls of varying layouts. The minaret is located in the northeast corner.
The qibla iwan is made of brick and measures twenty-one meters high by ten and a half meters wide. Its inscription indicates that it was built in 1423 (828 AH) by a Timurid minister. The dome chamber behind the iwan is fourteen and a half meters high. The mihrab is located on the western wall of this hall.
The prayer hall on the southeastern side of the courtyard is three aisles wide and nine bays deep, with a mihrab on its western wall. Sixteen columns support it. An inscription dates this space to the reign of Arghun Khan (r. 1284-1291/683-690 AH). The prayer hall on the northeastern side of the courtyard is square in plan and rests on sixteen columns in four rows of four. A the back of the hall, one of the bays is closed off into an octagonal vestibule from which the entry from the Hazrat bazaar opens. This prayer hall also has an entrance to the minaret.
The minaret is a tapering cylindrical shaft that rises twenty-eight and a half meters high and sits on tall cylindrical base. This minaret was renovated in the Safavid period, when a ma'azanah resting on a muqarnas cornice was built. Like other minarets of the Seljuk period, it was originally detached from the mosque.
The mosque is constructed of brick. Within the prayer halls, the columns are also brick, and the vaults are stuccoed. The great iwan is ornamented with elaborate brickwork, two polychrome inscriptions, and a tile band. Tilework is also found in the east entrance. The minaret, also built of brick, tapers sharply towards a muqarnas cornice formed of polychrome tiles. An octagonal balcony with a Safavid-style handrail is found at the top of the minaret. The minaret is further decorated with brick geometric designs and rough Kufic scripts.
Finster, Barbara. Frühe Iranische Moscheen, 231-233. Berlin: D. Reimer, 1994.
Godard, André. The Art of Iran. New York: Frederick A. Praeger Publishers. 1965.